August 24th, 2015 was a day that changed my life forever. It is the day I met Dr. Jody Carrington.
How do I know it was August 24th, 2015? Because the notes that I took on the first day I heard her speak and that I have been revisiting at least once a week for the past almost 5 years have that date scrawled across the top. Little did I know just how much that day would change my life, my outlook and my soul.
You see, I wasn’t in the greatest space hearing Dr. Jody speak that day. I had lost my way. My purpose. My passion. I was tired and scared and unsure of my future as an educator. There is no doubt in my mind that I was meant to be there that day. What I heard, and more importantly what I FELT kept me in the game. Period.
Dr. Jody has had an impression on my entire being… as a mom, a teacher, a wife, a friend, a member of my community… not one role I have on this planet has not been influenced by her. Need proof? Here is what she has taught me…
5 of the Most Important Lessons Dr. Jody Has Taught Me
1. “In the end or the beginning, all we want to know is that we matter”. (Kids These Day, 2019 and in my notes from 2015)
I am not sure how, but over the years Dr. Jody has taken years of negative self talk and internal doubt about my worthiness and has helped me to reshape and realize that I am enough.
Let me take that back… I DO know how. Through her light up for me (AND watching her light up for all those around her), her constant modelling of vulnerability through her keynotes and Facebook Lives and her reminders that we are all truly doing the best we can with what we’ve got, I have figured out that I do, in fact, matter.
All we really want to know is that we matter. To hear this spoken out loud, I immediately felt less alone. I immediately realized that THIS was the answer I had been trying to figure out for years of my life AND that this was the answer that all of our learners were searching from me. Being aware of this changed my way of thinking and at looking at myself and my relationships with others.
2. “It’s not if, it’s when”. (Kids These Day, 2019)
When I first heard Dr. Jody express the “it’s not if, it’s when” concept, it was in relation to speaking to our children and learners. It was about knowing that we needed to help them regulate and make sure the we ourselves were regulated before tough conversations took place. I loved the concept of waiting to address concerns at an appropriate time and immediately used this phrase many times a day to remind myself that it is all about the timing when it comes to our kids and our students.
But then, I realized that this extends to other adults too. In particular? My husband. So many times I would lash out trying to “correct behaviour” (HA!) in the heat of the moment. Ugh. What a waste. This phrase has come to mean so much to me and many times has been my mantra when I feel offended/attacked/hurt. I don’t always get it right (none of us do), but this simple phrase has encouraged this impatient thinker/fixer to calm down and breathe on many occasions in my home and in our classroom. For that, I am grateful.
3. “Bottom hands only. The rest don’t score”.
I heard Jody speak these words Y E A R S ago but I swear they still give me goosebumps.
The concept? That we all have “bottom hands” in our lives. Those who comfort us and love and cheer us on and accept us for who we are. They are the ones we call when we have good news or bad. They are the ones who challenge us to be better and do better because they believe in us. They are the ones who have our backs and who inspire us to be ourselves.
I can’t believe I am about to admit this but I literally spent years focusing on anyone but my bottom hands. On, essentially, trying to convert the haters. What. a. waste. of. my. time. When I heard Jody say “bottom hands only, the rest don’t score” I wanted to tattoo it on my body. I am not joking.
I love the idea so much. Focus on the ones you love. Post to social media as though you are speaking to them. Follow your gut and do the things that you know would make your bottom hands proud. Shoot for the moon knowing that when you stumble your bottom hands have got you.
When I started living this way (which by the way REALLY happened YEARS after hearing Jody say it!) everything changed. I still get hurt but I no longer do what I do for those who aren’t on that bottom hand list. I do what I do to for the people I love and those who love me back. Spend your time with those who remind you that you are awesome. Surround yourself with love.
4. “You cannot give away something you have not received”.
Kindness. Empathy. Forgiveness.
All of these things and more fall into this category for me. This quote changed me the most as a teacher. How can expect students to be kind, mindful, honest, forgiving, empathetic, compassionate if I am not giving the same to them? Providing experiences to practice these skills in our classroom has been an integral part of the culture we build each year. These are not only skills that can/should be taught at home. Giving children EVERY opportunity we can in our homes/schools/communities is something that I have become incredibly passionate about. It takes a village folks. And this is the kind of village I want to be a part of.
5. “It’s not about the method. It’s about the relationship.” (Kids These Days, 2019)
So much of my time as an educator had been focused on the methods I would use in the classroom to make sure it was “managed”. So much of my time was spent reading self help books about the methods I would use to improve myself. So much of my time was used watching and trying to imitate others whose methods I thought worked well to “train” those around me. Until this quote came into my life…
You see, until hearing this message from Jody, my focus was all wrong. Relationships not methods. People not programs. Connection not compliance.
Any way you swing it, relationships are keys and foundational to what works. I remind myself constantly of this important shift in mindset when things seem “off”. What I am using as a solution here? A method? Or the building or strengthening of a relationship? One will always trump the other.
And then she came calling…
As a self proclaimed Dr. Jody MEGAfan, I have seen her speak literally over 25 times. I have been to her amazing ReLit conference, purchased her swag, listened when she is a guest on a podcast, attended her Lives religiously and even wrote a review which is featured in her best selling book “Kids These Days”. I adore her and her message and feel a strong urge to thank her and support her every chance I get.
BUT even with all of this, I have never been so shocked as the day I got THE call from Jody and her sidekick Marti. The day when everything changed. The day where a dream came true. The day I broke out in the proudest excitement hives I have ever had… (Oh… you need proof of that too? Well, here ya go…)
I am writing a new book called “Teachers These Days” with this amazing human set to be released in early 2021.
Cue the tears.
Even as I write this, I cry. Pretty much every time I actually speak those words out loud, I cry. Tears of gratitude. So much freaking gratitude…
Many people ask, “why you?” (and not in a negative or mean way) which is a hard thing to explain. It wasn’t until we wrote the first chapter that I even understood why me. (You can read more about that in 2021.. winky winky wink wink…)
I am so incredibly blessed to be on this journey with my connection idol. Someone I have loved and admired and sought advice and inspiration from since that fateful day in August 2015.
Today (Sunday, April 26th at 8:00 pm MST) I will have a chance to join her on her Sunday night Instagram and Facebook Live where we will chat about the book, our plans, our dreams and our mutual love for educators working their tails off in this world. And although I still have a hard time believing any of this is happening, I can’t wait to share this space her. Of course, it would be an honour if you could join us there.
We will also be chatting about an opportunity for all of YOU to share you stories with us. Stories that get to the heart of relationships, trauma, grief… we want ’em all! So watch for an email from me coming soon about that.
If you are looking for someone to remind you of all the important lessons I spoke about above? To remind you of why you got into this game? To remind you that you are not alone? Dr. Jody is your girl.
I hope you will join the community she has created where we can grow and learn from one another. I’ll meet you there friends.